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What You Tweet Reflects Your Income, Emotions, and More


Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently released a first-of-its-kind study that shows that they can reliably link twitter feeds to income, based on the content of the tweets. Why you should be concerned? Your next employer may be searching Twitter, and you may not like what they find.


(Photo Credit: katerha/Flickr)

In the study of more than 5,000 Twitter accounts, and more than 10,000 tweets, researchers found a few not-so-surprising facts. They first checked the declared “profession” from the users’ profiles and separated them out into categories ranging from jobs with no formal education needed, to management roles.

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What wasn’t surprising:

  • A gender wage gap existed between men and women in similar jobs (learn more from our data package on the gender wage gap)
  • Older tweeters were more affluent than younger ones
  • Higher education lead to higher income

What was surprising:

The researchers found that tweets from higher earners:

  • have more followers
  • discuss politics and corporations more often
  • were more optimistic
  • show more anger and fear
  • get retweeted more often, and tend to retweet a lot of other tweets (more content distribution)

But tweets from lower earners:

  • include more URLs
  • use profanity more often
  • are more pessimistic and anxious
  • show they were more narcissistic
  • show more sadness, surprise, and disgust

One thing the researchers couldn’t link was overall happiness as it’s linked to income. The research findings state: “Other psycho-demographic features such as political orientation or life satisfaction are not significantly related to income. The relationship between life satisfaction and income is widely debated.”

That limitation being said, there’s so much that this one study was able to pull out of a mere 10,000 tweets. Considering that the latest stats show around 6,000 tweets are sent every second on the platform, there’s a seemingly limitless amount of data to sort through, only some of which are about the Kardashians.

What You Can Do

Where this information becomes so valuable is for those ready to data mine like there’s no tomorrow. Advertisers and marketers, political groups, or even employers who want to find that perfect candidate out there, all could learn from the tip of the data iceberg that this research shows.  

“The amount of information to be gleaned from a user’s profile and tweets is nearly endless, including everything from gender and education level, to personality and perceived religion,” said project collaborator Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro.

If you’re thinking that data miners like a future employer or collaborator might be looking over your shoulder while you tweet (because they really could be), try some of our tips for being professionally savvy with your Twitter account.

Remember, not only is Twitter not dead, it’s tweeting from inside the house.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you keep your Tweets professional or confessional? Tell us your story or opinion in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter.

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